There should be no confusion about whether a candidate for the Windham Town Council has a right to keep his name private. The principles of open government demand that he or she should not.

The council is an elected body that sets public policy for the town of 16,900 people. It is required by law to do all of its business in public. And all of its records and communications are also public, with a few very specific exceptions. All those running for office should have no expectation of privacy, especially with regard to their ambition to serve.

That message wasn’t clear Wednesday, however, when town officials would not release the names or application forms of three town residents who have asked to be considered for an appointment to fill a vacant seat on the Town Council.

The town attorney advised town staff not to release the information without permission of the candidates, because their application might be considered to fall under the law that governs the handling of job applications.

While being a town councilor can be a tough job, and it does come with a small stipend, it is not a job. Public service is just what the name says and it can’t be done unless it is in public.

Someone who wants to be considered for a public office should not be shy about getting attention. Anyone who feels otherwise is, by definition, unsuited for such service.

Fortunately, that’s not the case with the three people who said they want to serve on the Windham Town Council. All three confirmed to a reporter that they had expressed interest in the council seat.

The mistake appears to have been made at Town Hall, and it looks more like an excess of caution than a desire to be secretive. Preventing this confusion from happening again would be easy. Town officials should just write a few lines at the bottom of the application form, stating clearly that appointments to public service positions will be made in public and there should be no expectation of privacy by anyone who wants to fill one.